Kosuke Okahara


Ibasyo (2004- )

- Self-injury among young Japanese girls -

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A little after midnight, my cell phone rang as usual. “I did it again... But I’m okay...”

Sayuri’s voice coming from the phone didn’t sound okay at all. “You know, I was raped... I don’t feel like I’m worthy of anything since then.

Lots of people told me, over and over, that I should love myself, but I don’t know how to love someone so dirty like me.”

Her quiet voice changed into a sob. After a while, she spoke again. “Sorry, I’m okay... I’ll go to work tomorrow.”

Poverty, rape, bullying, domestic violence; these are behind self-inflicted injuries. I have heard of them but never felt them around myself for real. For better or worse, the “culture of shame” inherent in Japan has prevented them from being revealed. Poverty exists in a suburb of Tokyo, just an hour away from my hometown, and there is a life that yakuza-related debt collectors barge into everyday. Rapes have occurred even in the college I graduated from.

Deep emotional wounds have taken away self-esteem from the girls I met. Since they are unable to do a stroke of work due to depression and panic attack disorders, they cannot appreciate their own value and come to believe that they are worthless. It has resulted in their self-injurious behavior. By harming the “worthless-self” (or one who cannot believe in her worthiness), they try to reaffirm their own existence. But when they see the scars, they despise themselves for “doing what they shouldn’t do.” It’s a vicious circle. The lives of such girls are full of pain and suffering.

They don’t think of justifying their acts. However, their existence implies one of the dark aspects of today’s Japanese society.

“What does it mean by loving oneself? I wish somebody would tell me...” ...said Sayuri, before she hung up the phone.

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